⊂ EUROPE ⊃
EU approves aid for Italy and Germany: The EU Commission has approved two state aid schemes to support the German economy amid the coronavirus pandemic. The first approved German state aid measure concerns a loan programme covering up to 90% of the risk for loans to companies of all sizes, the second is a programme in which the state owned bank KfW participates together with private banks to provide larger loans as a consortium. The EU also approved an offer to Italy of 50 million euros for the production of medical devices including ventilators and personal protection equipment such as masks, goggles and gowns. The aid will be in the form of direct grants and repayable advances. Meanwhile, German hospitals will admit coronavirus-infected patients from a neighbouring region of eastern France struggling to cope with a rising number of cases. France’s coronavirus death toll rose to 674 on Sunday. A French doctor has died from the virus, the first medic to succumb in the country.
reuters.com, bloomberg.com (Aid); independent.co.uk, reuters.com, reuters.com (France)
China sends doctors and masks to Europe: In the last few weeks, China has donated coronavirus testing kits to Cambodia, sent planeloads of ventilators, masks and medics to Italy and France, pledged to help the Philippines, Spain and other countries, and deployed medics to Iran and Iraq. As the outbreak spreads and countries struggle to respond, China has positioned itself as a leader and benefactor in public health.
Fears of domestic violence and child abuse rise: As people in many places are told to stay home because of the coronavirus pandemic, domestic violence experts warn the isolation and increased stress could be devastating for survivors forced to shelter somewhere unsafe. Experts fear that domestic and sexual violence among adults will increase significantly in the coming weeks as more people work from home. If stricter curfews are implemented, the situation will become even more severe — effectively trapping victims of domestic violence with their abuser. With many schools closed and youth services practicing social distancing, child protection groups also warned of a potential increase in child abuse. Child protection agencies are demanding an increase in support on digital platforms, including social media, to keep children and families well-informed of the help that’s available. Germany’s Green party called for exemptions from restrictions for women and children at risk of violence.
nbcnews.com, dw.com, welt.de
ECB announces pandemic purchasing programme: The European Central Bank ECB has announced a 750 billion euro asset purchase programme in an effort to help mitigate the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. Purchases will be conducted until the end of 2020. The central bank said that it would buy public and private securities to counter the serious risks of the virus.
EU Commissioner Kyriakides: EU Commission calls on people to take social distancing seriously welt.de
NGO Global Witness: EU states are dragging their feet over financial transparency theguardian.com
North Korea: Trump allegedly offered virus co-operation in letter to Kim; North Korea test fired missiles washingtonpost.com; time.com
⊂ QUOTE OF THE DAY ⊃
“These are not recommendations, but rules.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Sunday that Germany will ramp up efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus by banning meetings of more than two people outside the same household and mandating the closure of nonessential businesses.
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
Italy closes all non-essential business: Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced Saturday that all businesses must close until the 3rd of April, with the exception of those essential to maintaining the country’s supply chain. Supermarkets, pharmacies, postal and banking services will remain open, Conte said, and essential public services including transport will be ensured. Italy recorded a jump in deaths from coronavirus of almost 800 on Saturday, taking the toll in the world’s hardest-hit country to almost 5,000. On Sunday, Italy reported another 651 deaths from coronavirus. Given the dramatic situation, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tweeted that Germany was ready to help its Italian friends, and had already sent medical protective equipment. Russia will also start sending medical help to Italy. Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to Conte on Saturday, offering his support and help in the form of mobile disinfection vehicles and specialists to aid the worst hit Italian regions.
reuters.com, reuters.com (Conte); zeit.de (Maas); nytimes.com (Putin)
Czech Republic seizes masks sent by China to help Italy: The Czech Republic confiscated more than 100,000 face masks which China had sent to Italy to help tackle the country’s coronavirus outbreak. The company involved was supposed to provide the equipment to health professionals, but raised the price at the last minute, Czech Interior Minister Jan Hamacek said. However, it turned out that some of these seized masks were destined for Italy as a gift from China. Hamacek said the government was working with both countries to make sure that Italy would not lose out on anything. In the meantime, the Czech Republic’s tough measures to slow the spread of coronavirus may be relaxed somewhat in three weeks, but the country’s borders are likely to stay shut to most travel for months.
independent.co.uk (Masks), reuters.com (Borders)
Earthquake rocks Croatia’s capital Zagreb: A 5.3 magnitude earthquake struck north of Zagreb on Sunday, damaging buildings and leaving cars crushed by falling chunks of masonry. A teenager is in a critical condition after a roof collapsed, local media say. Aside from the teenager, another sixteen people were injured. Several buildings were damaged, including the parliament. The spire of the city’s cathedral snapped off. The quake happened just as Croatia’s government and health service are dealing with the coronavirus emergency. The capital is in a state of partial lockdown and residents have been ordered to avoid public areas. But they had no choice but to leave their homes when the quake struck.
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Spain extends state of emergency: The Spanish government plans to extend the country’s state of emergency for another 15 days, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced Sunday, as the number of coronavirus deaths soars in the country. Like many major countries in Europe, Spain is following the path of Italy with cases accelerating and draconian measures put in place to keep citizens away from public places. Emergency hospitals have been set up across the country, while residents have been ordered to stay indoors apart from for essential trips, and normally busy streets are deserted.
Hungary’s government seeks to extend special powers: The Hungarian government will ask parliament to extend a state of emergency due to the spread of the coronavirus and seek powers to suspend laws and pass decrees to contain it, a draft bill submitted to parliament shows. The legislation would extend the state of crisis indefinitely, and would impose prison sentences of up to 5 years on those hindering measures that are aimed at containing the spread of the virus and on those spreading false information.
New Slovak government takes office amid coronavirus fight: Newly appointed Prime Minister Igor Matovic and his team were sworn in at a ceremony with participants wearing facial masks and gloves as a precaution against coronavirus. Matovic takes over amid a public health crisis that led his predecessor Peter Pellegrini to ban international passenger travel, close schools and shutter most shops. “We have a remedy for the coronavirus – It’s solidarity, responsibility and the determination of all people who care about Slovakia,” he said. “Let’s go to battle.” Matovic and his Ordinary People party (OLaNo) won a quarter of the vote in the 29 February parliamentary election.
Germany: Chancellor Merkel in quarantine; Meetings of more than two people banned to slow coronavirus cnbc.com; politico.eu
France: President Macron threatens UK entry ban in lieu of more stringent measures euractiv.com
Spain: Coronavirus-induced lockdown politico.eu
Romania: Borders closed for foreign citizens romania-insider.com
Sweden: Prime minister says prepare for more restrictive policies bloomberg.com
⊂ POLITJOBS ⊃
Bitkom sucht Referent europäische Digitalpolitik (w/m) *** Int. Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory seeks Innovation Project Manager *** Int. Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory seeks Project Assistant for EU Funded Projects *** PwC seeks Public Affairs Senior Manager Belgium *** Johnson & Johnson seeks Policy Assistant, Government Affairs & Policy EMEA *** Public Policy Manager, Connectivity *** Ryanair offers Public Affairs internship
politjobs.eu, politjobs.eu/submit (Inserat schalten)
⊂ MALFUNCTION ⊃
Decision on Olympic Games in four weeks: The International Olympic Committee is considering a postponement of Tokyo 2020, and has given itself a deadline of four weeks to make a decision. Cancellation is not on the agenda, said the committee, but a scaled-down Olympic Games will be considered. However, postponement – by either several months or probably a whole year – is thought to be the most likely outcome. On Saturday, huge crowds defied coronavirus fears to queue for hours to see the Olympic flame in northern Japan.